A former welder who worked for a shipbuilding company for 37 years has received provisional damages after he was diagnosed with asbestosis, a rare long-term lung condition that usually develops many years after the sufferer has been exposed to harmful asbestos.
The man, now 78, started working for the company as an apprentice in 1955 and continued working for the same employer until he was made redundant in 1992. Throughout his working life he was regularly exposed to asbestos as he worked alongside laggers whose job was to apply asbestos insulation to the pipework of the ships being built. The air was often thick with asbestos dust, which when inhaled penetrates the lungs and can cause not only asbestosis but also the fatal lung cancer mesothelioma. He was at no time given a warning that the substance was dangerous.
The man's daughter said that her father always took his work clothes off as soon as he got home as they were covered with dust and he didn't want to make the house dirty. She would then put them in the washing machine. They had no idea that exposure to the dust could prove deadly.
Whilst most successful personal injury claims are settled by a one-off compensation payment, there are circumstances, as in this case, where a full and final settlement of the claim cannot be calculated as the claimant could go on to develop further health problems that stem from the same cause. In such cases, it is usual to agree an award of provisional damages with the possibility of reopening the claim at a later date if necessary.